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Toronto Raptors Celebration Marred by Reported Shooting in Nathan Phillips Square

The reported shooting led hundreds to flee the scene, which featured the entire Raptors team and dignitaries such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

by Mack Lamoureux and Hilary Beaumont
Jun 17 2019, 8:34pm

Image via CP. 

Toronto Police say a shooting was reported in Nathan Phillips Square during the Toronto Raptors victory celebration, and two people have serious injuries.

In a series of tweets, the Toronto Police Service said that two people were injured, two firearms were recovered at the scene, and two people are "in custody."

Several videos posted to social media show the crowd frantically running away on the eastern side of the square.

The Raptors had just finished up the parade portion of their team celebration of their NBA title victory at the time of the reported shooting, and were gathered on a stage at Nathan Phillips Square giving speeches. The entire Raptors team was on stage at the time, as well as dignitaries such as Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford.

Eleanor Simmons was walking near the festivities on Queen Street West, taking photos and videos, when people started screaming, “Shots fired!”

Simmons said everyone started running and she was almost trampled. Women were grabbing their children, and throwing them on their backs. “I felt so out in the open,” she said.

“People were trying to get into buildings but they couldn’t because of all the revolving doors and smashing into each other.” Everyone started lining up in an organized way to get through the doors, one at a time. It worked and people were able to get inside.

"I've never felt like I was going to get shot before. It's not something I know how to process. I've never been so scared in my life."

Olivia Wright, 18, was with her family walking through the nearby Eaton Centre “when hundreds of people started running in our direction yelling 'shooter.'" Wright said her family began running with the crowd, but she and her mom lost their father.

“My mom and I made it to the basement where it was a dead end, with no exit to a street level,” said Wright. “In that moment we were probably with 50 other people, all cowering together thinking these were the last faces we would probably see if the shooter came down the stairs.”

Constable David Hopkinson of the Toronto Police Service said police have not confirmed any incident at the Eaton Centre.

"I know that the Eaton Centre people may have evacuated a portion of the mall, that's not something we're involved in," said Hopkinson. "I'm not aware of anything that happened in the Eaton Centre."

Hopkinson said the shooting occurred just outside of Nathan Phillips Square on Bay Street and Albert Street.

"We had a report of a woman shot, our officers were very, very close to the scene so they were able to get there very quickly," he said. "They found two people suffering from gunshot wounds and we arrested two people and recovered two firearms."

Shortly after the reported shooting, a man came on stage—interrupting a speech—to ask the crowd to stay calm. The speeches went on as planned afterwards.

Across the city, millions of fans turned up for the festivities. Earlier in the day, the city said that Nathan Phillips Square was at capacity.

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